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Phailin is the strongest cyclone to hit India since 1999

Last updated on: October 12, 2013 21:36 IST

Phailin is the strongest cyclone to hit India since 1999

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Lalit K Jha

United States experts have described Phailin as the strongest tropical cyclone to hit India in 14 years.

The US Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, said Phailin is now expected to break the Indian Ocean intensity record set by the 1999 cyclone, in which at least 9,000 people were killed in Odisha.

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Image: -A big wave smashes into a breakwater at a fishing harbour in Jalaripeta in the Visakhapatnam district in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh
Photographs: Reuters

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Phailin is the strongest cyclone to hit India since 1999

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Lalit K Jha

In its latest bulletin, JTWC said the extremely dangerous tropical cyclone Phailin has maintained Category 5 strength for six hours, and is expected to remain a Category 5 storm until it is just a few hours from landfall on the northeast coast of India on the Bay of Bengal.

While strengthening, the storm has grown to nearly half the size of India itself.

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Image: Fishermen pull a boat from the waters of the Bay of Bengal to safer ground at Podampata village in Ganjam district in the eastern Indian state of Odisha
Photographs: Reuters

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Phailin is the strongest cyclone to hit India since 1999

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Lalit K Jha

Jeff Masters, founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan, wrote in his blog that he expects that Phailin will weaken slightly before hitting the coast, due to interaction with land, and hit as a Category 4 storm with winds of 145 - 155 mph. The 1999 Odisha Cyclone hit land with top winds of 155 mph.

There is good reason to be concerned when a major tropical cyclone forms in the Bay of Bengal, he said.

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Image: -Police direct people to move away as waves from the Bay of Bengal approach the shore at Podampata village in Ganjam district in the eastern Indian state of Odisha
Photographs: Reuters

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Phailin is the strongest cyclone to hit India since 1999

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Lalit K Jha

Twenty-six of the thirty-five deadliest tropical cyclones in world history have been Bay of Bengal storms, he added. During the past two centuries, 42 per cent of Earth's tropical cyclone-associated deaths have occurred in Bangladesh, and 27 per cent have occurred in India, he wrote.

"It's going to cause pretty complete devastation on the coast where it hits," he told The Washington Post.

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Image: A woman carries a bag as she walks through a flooded street after heavy rains
Photographs: Krishnendu Halder/Reuters

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